(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) U.S. stocks opened higher overnight Friday but were unable to hold on to these gains, and the major indexes traded trended lower as pre-election jitters had investors hitting the sell button.
By the close the Dow Jones had fallen 139 points (-1.05%) to 13,093, while the NASDAQ slumped 38 points (-1.26%) to 2982.
U.S. Economic News
The government reported that nonfarm payrolls jobs growth in October topped expectations, with the data coming just days before the U.S. presidential elections between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.
The Labour Department said Friday that the US added 171,000 jobs in October, beating the net increase of 120,000 jobs that economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast.
But the unemployment rate edged up one tenth in October to 7.9% after dropping to 7.8% the prior month from 8.1% in August.
Analysts are saying that the increase in the unemployment rate in October is more upbeat, because it was due to more people looking for work, instead of as a result of mass layoffs. This is good news for President Barack Obama, as the numbers seem to be in line with his key targets.
The unemployment rate is still high, however, and job growth still needs to pick up to bring the jobless numbers down. Yesterday, Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren said the Federal Reserve sees 7.25 per cent unemployment rate as the threshold for a thorough assessment of QE3.
He went on to say that unemployment would need to be around 6.5 per cent to warrant raising interest rates.
The October numbers follow an upwardly revised gain of 148,000 in September (originally up 114,000), as well as an increased boost of 192,000 in August (previous estimate of 142,000). The net revisions for August and September were up 84,000.
Private payrolls increased 184,000 in October after gaining 128,000 the month before. Market expectations were for a 120,000 increase.
Average hourly earnings were flat last month, following a 0.3% jump the month before. The consensus forecast a 0.2% rise.
U.S. Corporate News
On the corporate front, earnings season continued in full swing, as oil giant Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX) said third quarter earnings fell 32% as planned maintenance reduced oil and gas production, and foreign exchange effects hurt results.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) late Thursday wrote down 2 billion in natural gas deposits as prices plunged, prompting the company's biggest net loss in three years.
Oil-and-gas producer Hess Corp.'s (NYSE:HES) third-quarter earnings rose 87% as it sold assets and revenue grew on improved selling prices and production.
Linkedin Corp.'s (NASDAQ:LNKD) third-quarter results beat Wall Street expectations late Thursday as it swung to a profit and posted an 81% jump in revenue for the third quarter.
Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ:SBUX) Thursday increased its full-year forecast as the coffee chain reported a 6% rise in global same-store sales on higher customer traffic for the fiscal fourth quarter.
Online travel site Priceline.com (NASDAQ: PCLN) rose more than 9% Friday after the company reported upbeat quarterly results.
The McGraw-Hill Cos. (NYSE:MHP) said Friday its third-quarter net income fell 14%, pulled down by costs related to the planned spinoff of its education division and cost-cutting efforts.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSE:VRX) (NYSE:VRX) Friday said its third quarter profit fell 81 per cent on costs related to its 2.6 billion purchase of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. (NYSE:MRX) in September.
However, revenue grew to 884 million, up from 600.5 million, well ahead of analyst estimates of 297.08 million, according to Thomson Reuters.